Botox vs. Natural Skin Care

On April 15, 2002 , the FDA approved Botox® to treat wrinkles and fine lines.  Botox® was first approved in December 1989 to treat two specific eye muscle disorders, “Blepharospasm” and “Strabismus” and subsequently approved in December 2000 to treat Cervical Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder contractions[1].

To gain the approval for use with wrinkles and fine lines, a clinical study involving 405 mostly women over 50 with moderate to severe wrinkles and fine lines were injected with Botox® cosmetic and after 30 days frown lines were evaluated.  The frown lines were eliminated for approximately 120 days at which time re-injection was required.  The FDA guidelines were Botox treatments to incur no more frequently than once every three months and the lowest effective dose should be used.

The study highlighted the following common adverse side effects:

  • Headache
  • Respiratory infection
  • Flu symptoms
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Nauseous

Less frequent but adverse reactions in approximately 3% of patients included pain in the face, redness at the injection site, and muscle weakness.  While the adverse reactions were termed temporary, they could last months.

The FDA approved Botox® as a prescription drug, thus, requiring medical supervision.  The actual name for Botox® cosmetic is Botulinum Toxin Type A, it’s actually produced from the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum.

What actually occurs is an injectible form of sterile purified toxin, in a very small dose, is injected into the affected muscles to block and release the chemical acetylcholine, that would otherwise cause contraction in the muscle.  The toxin actually paralyzes the injected muscle.

Interestingly, the Botulinum Toxin has been known for centuries.  As early as 1895, a professor (Emile Pierre van Ermengem of Ellezelles , Belgium ) identified the original toxin from Bacterium Bacilus Botulinus.  It was later renamed in the 1920’s as Botulinum Toxin Type A, generic name Botox®, which is a registered trademark.  Dr. Herman Sommer, at the University of California San Francisco subsequently provided the data sufficient for future medical studies.

In the 1950’s, Dr. Vernon Brooks[2] discovered that the Botulinum Toxin, when injected directly into an active or hyperactive muscle included the release of acetylcholine from motor nerve endings, thus, inducing a temporary paralysis of a targeted muscle.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Dr. Alan Scott, M.D. of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Foundation began effectiveness testing with monkeys to determine if the drug might have effective therapeutic modalities.

For the next 20-30 years, Dr. Scott collaborated with Dr. Schantz of the University of Wisconsin to further develop product samples[3].

In the late 1970’s, Dr. Scott formed a company named Oculinum, where he continued to study the drug with monkeys and in 1978 received permission from the Food & Drug Administration to test on human clinical studies.  In 1988, Allergan acquired the rights to distribute Dr. Scott’s Botox® Toxin Type A product.  The current manufacturer, Allergan Inc., is located in Irvine , California .

Current side effects in actual applications are as follows (as a % of total side effects):

·         Upper Respiratory Infection – 11%

·         Neck Pain – 11%

·         Headache – 11%

·         Drooping Eyelids – 21%

·         Eye Dryness – 6%

·         All others – 40%

The idea of Botox treatments to your face every three months, at a cost of up to $1,200 per injection, with toxins, given known side effects and the significant discomfort of the injections, from a product continually tested on monkeys should drive consumers research to other alternatives.

Webster’s dictionary confirms toxins are “any of various poisons produced by microorganisms and causing certain diseases” or “any poisons secreted by plants or animals”[4]

In summary, Botox treatments are being used to eliminate wrinkles and fine lines, but are they a healthier treatment than natural skin care?

[1] FDA T02-20 April 15, 2002

[2] Schantz, EJ, Historical Perspective EDS.  Therapy with Botulinum Toxin New York, New York, Marcelle Dekker Inc.  1994

[3] Schantz EJ, Johnson EA, Botox® Toxin Persp Biomed 1997; 40 (4) 317327

[4] Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus, Copyright © 1966 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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